Best Playgrounds in Santa Barbara

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We have two rambunctious (and by that I mean insane) little boys. Thank the stars we live in Santa Barbara where the outdoors is basically our indoors. Year long temperatures in the 70s means we’re at the playground a lot. A LOT. These are our favorites:

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Kids World

Kid’s World is the boss playground of downtown Santa Barbara. Situated right in the middle of Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens, you won’t be able to drive by without your children clambering for a better look. Recently renovated (2018), it’s a monstrous wooden castle with plenty of everything - swings, slides, sand, balance beams and swinging balance thing-a-ma-bobs. There’s even a baby area that’s in a separate location. A MAJOR plus for us is that the entire playground is enclosed and there are wooden picnic benches for parents to rest their weary feet (and sip their thermos of wine, I mean water).

There is a magician-clown (don’t ask) that visits regularly on the weekends. He does a very entertaining show and gives out free (donations appreciated) balloon animals. Not going to lie, the first time I saw him I held onto my kids a little tighter than usual, but really, he’s just a nice guy with a hobby and the kids love him.

There’s also a couple of possible illegal (but harmless) snack carts. Our favorite is the vendor with fresh mangoes that she cuts into a floral shape - something I can never seem to get the hang of. She also offers to sprinkle it with red spices, which we usually decline.

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Rocky Nook Playground

For a few years we didn’t venture to this playground much. It doesn’t have much going on - a couple of swings and a slide with a climbing gym, but as our kids have gotten older, we have come to embrace it. It’s shady and situated amongst barbecues and picnic tables with plenty of free parking. The best part about this playground is that it’s located at the beginning of a short and easy hiking trail so once your kids are bored of the playground fixtures you can take them on a short walk filled with boulders and knotty oak trees to climb.

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Shipwreck Playground

This playground is located at Chase Palm Park, right across from East Beach. If you time it right, you can visit the playground and then go for a dip in the ocean. The main structure is designed to look like a (wait for it) shipwreck! Part of the structure is immersed in the sand and surrounded by concrete forms that look like whales coming up for air. Even without traditional slides and swings, my kids can play all day here.

Credits: Written and Photographed by Jen Bogan

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